Sep 012005


Kitchen Fun with Carol

Hi everybody! It’s back to school time at our house. My twin boys are starting high school this year so we have been getting them prepared for the big day and the added responsibilities that high school brings. My daughter is back home from her summer job for a few weeks. She is preparing to leave for The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) to study nursing. It’s been great having her back home for a couple of weeks! It’s fun to watch the interaction between her and her brothers. And it is interesting with three teenagers in the house that eat constantly all day long! Not only do I have to plan for lunch and dinner but I also have to have lots of snacks and breakfast foods on hand to full up my hungry teenagers.

Our current favorite breakfast food is Breakfast McBiscuits. I made my first batch a couple weeks ago using English muffins, turkey sausage and eggs. I keep cheese on hand so the kids can add it themselves later if they want it. For my first batch I used Tammy’s suggestion from the message boards to cook the eggs. She bakes the eggs in a jelly roll pan and then cuts them into squares for the sandwiches. This is so simple and easy. When I made my second batch (a double batch this time!) I tried cooking the eggs in a microwavable muffin pan that had 9 muffin cups. This was fast, easy and they came out round just like McDonald’s. I bought my turkey sausage in one pound chubs. I split each chub into 8 portions, used my hamburger press to form the patties, and cooked the patties on my large electric griddle. They assembled very quickly using this method. To avoid the problem of a soggy sandwich, I do not freeze them fully assembled. I place the unopened muffin, sausage and egg in a sandwich bag and then I place multiple bags inside a gallon freezer bag. When you are ready to eat them, grab a sandwich and microwave it 15 seconds so that the muffin can be opened. Toast the muffin in the toaster and microwave the egg and sausage on a plate until they are hot. If you want to add cheese, add it during the last 15 seconds of microwaving.

We have lots of other recipes that we serve for breakfast. Another new favorite is Tara’s Favorite Muffins with chocolate chips. I make the mini muffin version of this recipe. They are wonderful! We also make waffles using the Master Baking MixBreakfast BurritosPeanut Butter MuffinsGranola Bars, and French Toast Sticks from the Freezer Cooking for Daycare Providers and Busy Parents ebook sampler.

For lunches, I always go with a seasonal rotating menu. Variety helps keep everyone happy. For example, when serving a sandwich sometimes I serve them on pita pockets instead of bread and with fresh spinach instead of lettuce. This makes it different and fun. Here’s a sample of a menu that I use. We repeat it 3 times and then adjust the menu for the next season.







Week 1

Turkey and Noodles

Sausage and Rice

Taco Pockets

Turkey Sandwich

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Week 2

Hamburger Soup

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Ham Sandwich

Montreal Chicken Sandwich

Pork BBQ

Week 3

Chicken Pockets 

Turkey Sandwich

Meatball Sandwich

Pasta with Ham

*Shredded Roast Beef Sandwich

Week 4

Bowtie Soup 

Ham Sandwich

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Turkey and Cheese Pockets

Peanut Butter and Jelly

* I use the Beef and Noodles recipe from the Healthy Freezer Cooking ebook or you could use the Crock-Pot Beef Sandwiches from The Freezer Cooking Manual.

Some of our other favorite recipes for lunch include Pizza Pockets, Hamburger Mulligan and Pepperoni Sticks from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook, French Toast Sticks from the Freezer Cooking for Daycare Providers and Busy Parents ebook sampler, Mac and Cheese (homemade or boxed), and Meatloaf Sandwich (I cook mine before I freeze it!). I also occasionally pack hotdogs or and left over soups or chili.

One of our favorite recipes for lunches are homemade pockets. There are so many different combinations of ingredients that you can use to make the filling. We usually pick four different types to make for each menu rotation. That gives us one meal of pockets per week. Never made pockets before? Here are some tips to get you started.


  1. For the bread you can use purchased or homemade bread dough, store bought crescent rolls, or any other homemade breading. We make our own dough to save money. The Super Easy Best Ever Crescent Rolls recipe or the Crescent Roll recipe from the Freezer Lunches to Go ebook are great for pockets.
  2. Pick filling combinations that your family likes. Each pocket uses about 1/4 cup of filling so for each batch of twelve you will need 3 cups. Here are some ideas to try:
    • Turkey, ham and cheese
    • Chicken, broccoli and cheddar
    • Miniature meatballs, mozzarella and spaghetti sauce
    • BBQ beef
    • Beef or Chicken, Mexican cheese, peppers and onion
    • Shredded beef or chicken with cheddar cheese
    • Chicken, peppers, broccoli and Alfredo sauce
    • Philly steak, cheese, onions and peppers
  3. If your filling has a sauce, do not get the sauce on the edges and do not overstuff the pockets. If you do, the pockets may not seal and their contents will ooze out during cooking. There’s nothing sadder than a pocket that has lost it’s filling!
  4. Make sure you cool the pockets completely before freezing. Warm pockets generate ice crystals in the freezer. That makes the pockets wet when you defrost them. If this happens, warm them up in the oven instead of the microwave to dry them out.


Pockets are a fun way to serve lunch! Be creative and create your own combination of flavors. For some more helpful information on packing lunches, read Do’s and Don’ts of Packed Lunches and my ebook Freezer Lunches To Go. Good luck this school year and enjoy this month’s bonus recipes!

Bonus Recipes

ChickenCordonBleuPockets160Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets

We love pockets so I am always trying to create new flavor combinations to pack for lunch. This recipe was inspired by one of our favorite dinners, Chicken Cordon Bleu. For us, it’s one of those special occasion meals that I only serve once in a while because of the prep work involved in assembling the meal. It has a great combination of chicken, ham, cheese and a wonderful sauce. This pocket recipe reminds of the flavors without all the work!



DoubleChocolateMuffins160Double Chocolate Muffins

Whenever we go grocery shopping we pass right through the bakery section of the store and you know how tempting that can be. Our local store has a two sided cart that contains lots of different muffins and they all look great! My kids are always asking to purchase some of the chocolate chocolate chip muffins. I decided to create a recipe of my own to use instead. These are light, fluffy and smell so good coming out of the oven. I have these available for breakfast and for the kids to eat after school. You’ll be surprised how quickly a dozen will vanish!



Recipe of the Month Contest Winner

Recipe of the Month… Chicken Taco Rice

Our winner this month is Rachel from Gloucester, VA, with her recipe for Chicken Taco Rice. This rice is very versatile and can be used in many ways. It’s great plain with cheese melted on top. It can be used as a filling for Chicken Burritos. You can also use it to make Taco Salad or Nachos. Freeze it in individual servings for after school snacks.
Let’s meet Rachel:

I am a stay-at-home-mom to one preschooler. I am committed to making healthy meals, but I hate the actual cooking, so I enjoy being able to get all the cooking done for the month and have it over with! My husband, who is self-employed, appreciates the financial savings that come with such well-planned meals. The Freezer Cooking Manual is quite a gem, being the only freezer cookbook I could find that included instructions for creating my own cooking plan using the foods we already eat. My interests include whole foods cooking and nutrition, scrapbooking, reading, working on my website, and research. (I’m an information junkie!)

Click here to view/print the September Recipe of the Month.

Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner

Our winner this month is Diane with her story about how she helps others cooking the 30 Day Gourmet way.

Diane says:

I purchased your manual several years ago after seeing you on Home and Family (I have your video, too. Love it.). I’d just like to thank you for all your hard work. This system has saved me so much stress. I cook all summer and put about 120 entrees in my freezer, so only have to “supplement cook” during the school year when things are crazy (I have two active teenagers and our family is very involved in both the Christian school where I work and they attend, and our church where I co-lead our “Heartbeat” ministry – meals for women in “crisis”). This past year especially my freezer meals were a lifesaver since I began making meals for my shut-in mother and father-in-law after they became incapacitated. I was so thankful to have “real food” that they would eat and have it ready to bring to them after a long day at school. Your manual, worksheets and system are the best out there. I always have something to bring to our “Heartbeat” new moms, patients in recovery, etc. I can’t thank you enough to helping me in this ministry I really feel God has called me to. God bless you, and all your helpers.

Thanks Diane! Less stress is a wonderful thing! We’re glad that you are able to help others in their time of need.

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope you enjoy the recipes and the lunch planning tips! I’ve got a pocket sandwich assembly day to plan. Before I go, there was a posting on the message boards that I would like to mention.

Gina asks:

Do very many of you actually send warm things in a thermos to school? It would allow a lot of variety. I just worried about it spoiling. Please advise.

Well, Gina, I am in my fifth year of packing lunches and I have been sending warmed foods the entire time. Not once have we had a problem with spoilage. The key is to make sure the Thermos is hot and the food that goes into it is hot as well. This means you need to pre-warm the Thermos by putting hot water in it 5 to 10 minutes before you put the hot food into it. For more information on packing a safe lunch, click here to visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education website.

Next month we’ll focus on Autumn recipes such as soup, slow cooker, and bread recipes.

Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!


Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

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